Baptism of fire for Men’s NT

The Philippine men’s national volleyball team goes under the microscope when it clashes with the national team of Macau in a pocket tournament at the Imus City Sports Complex from July 12 to 14.

Bannered by captain Johnvic de Guzman and Reyson Fuentes, the Nationals are tipped to go hard against the spikers from the former Portuguese colony, who share the same FIVB ranking with them at 137th.

Aside from Macau, also seeing action are the varsity of University of Perpetual Help and the selection squad of Imus City, which recently bagged the Cavite Inter-town title.

The tourney is a project of Larong Volleyball sa Pilipinas, Inc. (LVPI) in cooperation with the Philippine Superliga (PSL) and Philippine Sports Commission (PSC).

LVPI acting president Peter Cayco said they exhausted all efforts to invite a foreign team for a friendly match to gauge the team’s level of preparation before it embarks on a grueling 15-day training in Suwon, South Korea starting July 20.

[quote]“This is the federation’s attempt to give our men’s team the quality of competition they need before they fly to Korea for training.”[/quote]

[quote]“By bringing in the Macau team, we will gauge their preparation and what are the areas they need to improve and work on when they go to Korea. This is the first major test for our men’s team.”[/quote]

PSL president Ramon Suzara, a ranking executive in the Asian Volleyball Confederation, was instrumental in inviting the Macau squad.

He said this tourney would serve as a “test event” for the possible staging of a men’s tournament, which the league last organized three years ago.

[quote]“This is our humble contribution to the preparation of our men’s team for the Southeast Asian Games. We feel that our men’s national team also deserves the level of attention its female counterpart has been getting.”[/quote]

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Bracing for war

National team head coach Sammy Acaylar said they are eyeing nothing but the title.

De Guzman, arguably the face of men’s volleyball in the country today, will be in deadly form as well as veterans Alnakran Abdilla, Mark Alfafara, Herschel Ramos, Bryan Bagunas and Fuentes.

He said the squad is ready and is training six times a week with a three-hour scrimmage every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and weights training every Tuesday and Thursday.

They also run in the track oval of Rizal Memorial Sports Complex to enhance their stamina.

[quote]“We are ready.”[/quote]

[quote]“We have been quietly preparing long and hard for this moment and we can’t wait to play against a foreign team. We will do everything to make the country proud, starting with this battle against Macau.”[/quote]

Acaylar noted that the Korean training would be a major boost to their training as they will get to face the best university and club teams there.

But before that, they have to overcome the gutsy Macau squad.

[quote]“Mr. Cayco is right; at least after this, we already have an idea on where we are in terms of preparation. So by the time we go to Korea, we already know what areas we need to work on.”[/quote]

[quote]“Building a solid national team isn’t easy. But this is a good start. At least we’re now laying down its foundation.”[/quote]